Return to Royston Vasey - In league with the surreal gentlemen

The League Of Gentlemen return
The League Of Gentlemen return
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What’s going on? What’s all this shouting? We’ll have no trouble here...” - a line every fan of The League of Gentlemen will recognise instantly as being uttered by Edward of Edward and Tubbs fame, owners of Royston Vasey’s local shop for local people.

It’s a line that was last spoken in the Capital in 2000 when the surreal comedy troupe brought their first live tour, The League of Gentlemen: Local Show For Local People, to the Capital.

On that occasion, the 5th December 2000, they played the Festival Theatre, by then, however, Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Sheersmith were no strangers to the Capital.

In was in 1996 the quartet made their Fringe debut. A year later they won the Perrier Comedy Award for Best Comedy Show.

Their dark, often surreal and brutal wit, establishing them as the UK’s most exciting comedy prospects.

Two decades on and, after a break of 15 years, they’re back with three new anniversary episodes now available on the BBC iPlayer, having aired on BBC One earlier this week.

There’s also a new tour in the pipeline, one that brings them to The Playhouse in 2018.

It will be the BAFTA winning troupe’s first UK tour in more than 12 years and as they prepare to bring their dark and unhinged fictional village of Royston Vasey back to the stage, they muse, “The League of Gentlemen started as a live show over 20 years ago and in many ways performing in front of an audience gives us the biggest thrill of all.

“We’re overjoyed to be taking the citizens of Royston Vasey on a road-trip and can’t wait to see all the wonderful local places in our increasingly local country.

“Plus we’d already gone to the trouble of getting the costumes and learning the voices again for the TV show so we thought why not?

“Something to do isn’t it?”

While the new tour may still be in the planning stages, the four performers were reminded of their Fringe roots earlier this year when they jetted into the Capital to present the Edinburgh Comedy Award.

At the time, Nica Burns, Director of the Awards, recalled The League of Gentlemen’s triumph 20 years before.

She said: “The League of Gentlemen won in 1997 over an outstanding shortlist: Al Murray, Graham Norton, Johnny Vegas and Milton Jones.

“The League have gone on to be incredibly successful writers as well as performers.

“We are delighted to welcome them back to the Fringe where their work was first created and recognised.”

It was that award-winning Fringe show that brought The League of Gentlemen to the attention of the BBC.

Their now familiar roster of weird and wonderful characters were first introduced to listeners of Radio Four in the six-part series On the Town with The League of Gentlemen, which was set in the town of Spent.

In 1999 they made the switch to television where Spent became Royston Vasey - a homage to comedian Roy Chubby Brown, whose real name is Royston Vasey, and who made a guest appearance in the TV series as the mayor of the town.

The first episode of Welcome to Royston Vasey aired in the January of that year, the start of a three series run before the cast decided to put their creations to bed in 2002.

In 2005 the release of their one and only feature film, so far, brought members of the troupe back to the Capital for a press launch at The Balmoral Hotel.

In the movie, Royston Vasey is coming to an end and the locals appear in the real world to try to save it.

They obviously succeeded as, 15 years on from their last TV outing they’re back on telly; there’s Pauline the Restart Officer with a fixation for pens, Barbara the gruff transsexual taxi driver, cursed vet Mr Chinnery and the godless Rev Bernice Woodall, to name but a few.

No doubt all will make an appearance in The League of Gentlemen Live Again, which tours to The Playhouse on 30 August 2018.

As they prepare to return to where it all began on the Fringe, in typically surreal style The League of Gentlemen give the last word to one of their most popular creations, Tubbs Tattsyrup: “I’m so eccited to take my preshus things on tour agen... I did a little brown fish! Do wee go to Swansea?”

The League of Gentlemen Live Again!, The Playhouse, Greenside Place, 30 August 2018, from ££40.15-£44.65 (+booking fee),